Gordie and me…

Posted: 09/11/2010 by bc in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

The pressure on my chest startled me from sleep. In a nanosecond a small index finger was forcing my left eye open. As things came into focus, our own Mighty Mite grinned, “It’s a great day for hockey, Dad.”

The digital clock informed all it was 4:45a.m. Practice is at 6:00. A gentle elbow to the not yet Retired Hockey Mom and it was hit the shower, chug down coffee and juice and off to the rink.

As per my usual at early morning practices I sleep-walked through the routine of tying skates, adjusting helmets, pads and taping sticks.

We looked like ducks as we left the room single file on the way to the bench. A group of adults were on the ice. As we reached the corner boards, out of the corner of my eye an unmistakable hairline skated past.

It was Gordie Howe!!! As the pickup game ended, Mr Howe skated toward our bench. With a smile and a little tongue in cheek, I said, “Hey kids, say hello to Wayne Gretzky’s favorite hockey player. His name is Blinky.”

Mr. Howe laughed and went straight into a funny broken, uncontrollable stick bit. He complained his stick was broke as he gently tapped kids on their helmets.  Then in what was about to become the most magical moment in my hockey life, Gordie Howe looked me straight in the eye and called me out onto the ice.

Even though I was standing at the gate. No way. I went over the boards. For the next few minutes, nothing else mattered. It was just Gordie and me on the ice.

He took the biscuit and skated to the neutral zone face off circle and we did laps tossing the biscuit back and forth. Every pass was tape to tape. Thank God I didn’t embarrass myself with a bad pass to Gordie Howe. Jeez, eh.

I picked up the pace and Mr. Howe obliged. After a couple more laps on the face off circle, I kicked it up again. Mr. Howe said in an even voice, “This is fast enough.” Well he was in his 60’s then and had just played a game.

After a few more laps on the face off circle I pulled up and humbly suggested that this was really the kids time. With that I swear what happened next seemed like that moment in the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still that the earth really did stand still.

“Is it okay if I stay out and shag pucks for you, Coach.” asked Gordie Howe.

Now it was me laughing, “Mr. Howe, you run the practice. I’ll shag the pucks.”

“No, no, ” he continued “Let me shag pucks and I’ll take each kid aside and work with them a bit.” And he did.

After about a half hour or so with the Mighty Mites, Mr. Howe skated past, tapped me on the rump with his stick and said, “You’re a good Coach.” And just like that, Gordie Howe skated off the ice.

Well that might have been the end of it but we skated out of the No. Hollywood rink. Some pretty well-known people were at the rink with their kids and/or playing in the adult leagues. Very recognizable actors. musicians and professionals from all walks of life. The joke around the rink was that they didn’t impress me but some “old hockey player did.” Well they weren’t Gordie Howe. They were just famous movie stars and other well-known professionals. Big whoop, eh.

Do you have a moment with Gordie Howe you’d like to share? You can do that here.

Ryan Dixon has a couple great Howe stories.

  1. jenelynrusso says:

    That is a great, great story. Only in Hollywood 🙂

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